A Moville kayaking expert is breathing new life into a 1950s building that had become a dangerously derelict eyesore on the town's shore front.
Adrian Harkin has taken a five-year lease on the building that once facilitated the diving boards at Bath Green and has turned it into a water and outdoor pursuits centre. The attractive building, with its curved and arc-shaped lines, was designed by the late Greencastle architect Liam McCormick.
The clean-up operation on the 1956 building, however, was not for the faint hearted. Fourteen tonnes of the most disgusting rubbish imaginable first had to be removed from the water's edge site that had become a magnet for underage drinking.
"The place was absolutely full of rubbish and every corner was being used as a toilet. We took away 14 one-tonne trailer loads of rubbish including beer cans and bottles and, would you believe, even a dead fox," said Adrian.
The founder of Just Kayak, Bogside-born Adrian got a favourable reception when he went to Donegal County Council with his proposal. He told the local authority he would take the derelict building off their hands and pay for the cost of cleaning it, refurbishing it and insuring it, in return for a nominal lease fee. He said former local councillor Marian McDonald and the Council, in general, were very helpful to him. He got planning permission for the refurbishment works and the lease was granted in April.
He will pay the Council just €10 a year for the lease until 2014, but his outlay so far, not including his own labour, has already reached €20,000.
He has installed a conference room; a fitted kitchen and utility room and has cleaned up the male and female changing rooms to include toilets, wash-hand basins and electric showers.
He also had the place rewired, painted and has replaced the plumbing. He has installed new glass windows and wooden shutters and has fitted the slipway/compound next door with steel containers to provide safe-keeping for canoes.
Adrian, 39, who has lived in Moville for ten years with wife Sharon and their two daughters, aged ten and twelve, is delighted with progress so far.
He opened the doors of his new outdoor pursuits base last Thursday to a group of 35 IT specialists who were staying at an Inishowen hotel. The group were looking for a team-building day out other than golf. As part of the afternoon, Adrian, a kayaker of 25 years and coaching officer with the Foyle Paddlers in Derry, took them orienteering around Moville Green. On Sunday, he hosted a large group of experienced kayakers for a session on becoming team leaders and coaches. "I've looked at this lovely building lying idle for years and wanted to do something with it. No matter where you go in the world, a place right beside the water like this would always be used to its full potential. We hope people in Moville will like that it's being used again," added Adrian.